News that just 25% of Mac users have upgraded to the latest release of OS X has lead to a variety of theories as to why this might be the case. Top of the list is the operating system’s march towards looking and feeling like it’s “little brother”, iOS.
Given that Mac OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion features some considerable performance boosts, the fact that take up isn’t higher (I mean, it’s only $19.95 to upgrade!) has lead some to question if the main player, Snow Leopard, might become Apple’s equivalent of Windows XP.
There are, of course, various advantages to using Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard. To begin with, there is the compatibility with PowerPC applications which later versions of the operating system don’t support. There’s also the Hackintosh phenomenon – sadly it is becoming trickier to install Mac OS on newer non-Mac hardware, but Snow Leopard can be configured to run on a large selection of systems and even as a virtual machine on computers with AMD processors.
Financial constraints on users might also be to blame, although the low cost of the software upgrade (as opposed to the hardware) suggests otherwise. The real problem might simply be Apple’s growing popularity as the “friendly” and “usable” platform is reaching a new audience that has already been through enough transferring from Windows and doesn’t want the perceived hassle of yet another “upgrade”.
But what of the iOSification of the platform? Seen by some as inevitable, you only need to glance at Launchpad, Mail, iPhoto and many other Apple and third party apps to see that the whole look, style and ethos of iOS is being adapted wholesale for what is a desktop computing platform. This isn’t to everyone’s tastes.
What is most interesting about this is that it puts Apple into a situation similar to that experienced by Microsoft since Windows XP’s initial end of life date. Now extended to 2014 (although with a share of 41% earlier this year, that date seems extremely optimistic) Windows XP support is a major bugbear for Microsoft, particularly as it isn’t Metro friendly and can’t even run Office 2013. Yet it persists in popularity among users and games publishers.
Apple were forced to issue a patch for Snow Leopard in September 2012, something that isn’t usually done for the last-but-one release. Usually at this stage support is dropped, so it will be interesting going forward to see how Cupertino deals with this particular problem.
In the meantime, they’ll be hoping that the low price and the coming holiday season leads to an increase in the uptake of upgrades…